Many farming promises made by the government have yet to be delivered, says an assessment of the coalition government’s first year in power.
Published exactly a year after the government’s coalition agreement, the NFU document will be unveiled on Friday (20 May). The agreement contained positive news for farmers, it acknowledges. But there is much progress still to be made.
Coalition pledges included the establishment of a supermarket watchdog, the introduction of measures to control bovine TB in badgers, a review of farming regulations and a commitment to energy from renewable sources.
“While a year may seem like a long time in politics, some of these policies have yet to be fully implemented. We appreciate that getting policy right often means taking time, but we also hope to see significant progress made in the second year of the coalition,” reads the report.
Amid disappointment at the pace of delivery for the Grocery Market Adjudicator, the report urges the government to speed up its implementation. It also calls for a speedy implementation of a promised bovine TB eradication plan.
The report praises government attempts to reduce farming red tape. But it warns that implementation of Farming Regulation Task Force recommendations across Whitehall is now crucial for the review to be meaningful.
The document praises DEFRA’s business plan for supporting British farming and sustainable food production. But it voices concern that this commitment is not shared across government departments.
On CAP reform, the NFU remains concerned that British influence in European negotiations continues to be marginalised. The government must adopt a pragmatic strategy geared towards serving the interests of British farming, it says.
Meanwhile, industry leaders are still waiting for the publication of White papers on the natural environment and water, which will help define government policy in relation to the farmed environment, says the report.
“We hope they will recognise that food production and environmental protection must go hand in hand, and we urge government to acknowledge that voluntary approaches to managing our natural resources are preferable to regulatory ones.”
The report praises the government’s commitment to maintaining funding for R&D, notably through a spending review pledge to maintain the science budget. But it says questions remain as to the extent of this protection.